Your Moment of City-Planning Zen: Lulu Guides You Through the Community Plan Implementation Overlay Tool

How will South L.A. develop over the next twenty years?

It’s the question city planners working on the Southeast and South Los Angeles Community Plans have been asking themselves for the past several years. As draft plans move closer to finalization, the decisions they make now about how the communities will be structured and zoned will guide future growth, impact the creation of economic opportunity, safeguard (or change) neighborhood character, and (hopefully) enhance the quality of life there over many years to come.

The new video City Planning just released (above, also available in Spanish) explains the role of the Community Plan Implementation Overlay (CPIO) tool. Where the goals, policies, and programs of the community plans are aspirational, the video suggests, the CPIO can provide the teeth necessary to help bring the specific vision of a community or neighborhood to life.

The ten-minute, easy-to-follow video is narrated by a cheerful, animated Lulu (who sounds kind of depressed in the Spanish version), who claims to be a long-time South L.A. resident (she’s actually voiced by city planner Haydee Urita-Lopez). She explains that the CPIO puts restrictions on nuisance land uses, provides incentives for desired developments, and establishes rules that will guide the appearance of new (or remodeled) structures.

There is a brief tutorial on how the CPIO has broken up each of the communities into four districts — Corridors Districts, Transit-Oriented Districts, Industrial Districts, and Residential Standards Districts — and explains (briefly) how its rules will guide development in each.

The districts, as laid out by the CPIO in South East L.A.
The districts, as laid out by the CPIO in Southeast L.A. (screengrab)

What’s left unclear from the video is a discussion of the larger impact on the community of efforts to do things like preserve zones for industry or heavier commercial uses (instead of encouraging a transformation in an area) or the pros and cons of choosing to prioritize Transit-Oriented Development around rail (instead of looking for more opportunities to upzone around heavily-used bus corridors).

Those omissions are to be expected — planners have already spent years exploring some of those kinds of questions with community stakeholders. But for the layperson looking at a completed draft and trying to get a grasp of how options were weighed and decisions were made, it can be hard to know where to begin to assess the CPIO or the draft community plans–which may leave residents reluctant to follow the planning process or offer comments on the drafts.

I’ll be taking a look at the plans in the coming weeks, including the recently-released Crenshaw Streetscape Plan and other potential developments along the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

In the meanwhile, I’m curious about how you, as a resident who may or may not have expertise in planning, views the video on the CPIO and the other materials available to you about your community plans. Is the video a helpful primer? What information do you feel you need to understand and/or get involved in the planning process? What circumstances, aspirations, opportunities, or concerns are you weighing when assessing a plan or thinking about the future of your community? If you don’t follow the community planning process, why not? What would change your mind? Let us know below.

For more on the city plans, visit the community pages:

Southeast L.A. New Community Plan Website: 
​South L.A. New Community Plan Website:​



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